A Texas woman has lived for more than a month with a tube coming out of her back. Amy Boykin is forced to live with the medical device because she can't afford to get it removed.
It all started in June, when she was diagnosed with a kidney stone.
"It's a seven by five stone which is too large to pass on your own, they said," Boykin told KTVT-TV's Cristin Severance. She said the urologist at Dallas Methodist Hospital told her they needed to install a nephrostomy tube to relieve pressure on her kidney, then they would remove the tube and stone after a couple days. "That's the only reason I agreed to the surgery… because they said I could stay and have it done."
Boykin has Medicare Part A, which covers inpatient procedures only.
Boykin said after the surgery to install the tube, the doctor told her she was going home. "She said 'no I'm discharging you right now.'" That's when Boykin learned that kidney stone removal is typically an outpatient procedure.
Now Boykin lives with the stone – and the tube that was supposed to be a temporary solution. She depends on her primary care physician, Dr. Travis Brown, to change her bandages and check for infection.
Dr. Brown says it's only a matter of time before Boykin is back in the ER.
"When you have a tube connecting the outside world and all that bacteria to your kidney… she's going to get an infection." But, he said, the hospital has to follow Medicare guidelines when performing the surgery. "If they try to bend those rules, the penalties are very severe."
According to Dr. Brown, the procedure would cost about $5,000 in all. Boykin said she gets a $1,000 disability check each month, and her part-time pizza delivery job brings in an extra $300 to $400 per month. She said she's barely making ends meet as it is. She worries that even with the hospital's financial assistance, she still wouldn't be able to afford the surgery. So for now she's living with at temporary fix, while hoping for a permanent solution. "My life's basically on hold until they can fix this."
Boykin's friends have set up a GoFundMe account to help pay for the surgery.
Methodist sent KTVT-TV the following statement:
"Kidney stone removal is typically an outpatient procedure. Because of that, it is not uncommon for patients to go home with a tube in place, with instructions to make a follow-up outpatient appointment. Methodist does offer multiple types of payment assistance and payment plans for patients who do not have coverage and/or cannot afford treatment. This can include discounts, charity care, and guidance for federal and state funding."